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Covid-19 Q&a – Employer Sponsored Visa Holders and Employment Issues

by | Apr 1, 2020 | Migration

Nevett Ford Immigration and Employment Lawyers is continuing to work with organisations, employees and family members to provide guidance on how manage the impacts of the coronavirus border closures. The situation is unprecedented, and changing on an almost hourly basis.

We have summarised some of the most common queries into a set of FAQs below:

As an Employer, What Steps Should I Be Taking to Manage the Impact of Covid-19 From an Immigration Perspective?

Employers should ensure that they are up to date with the most accurate information to make an informed decision for your workplace.

Our Key Recommendations for Employers Are:

  • Review the location of your employees to identify employees impacted by the travel ban, particularly those on leave who may be overseas and unable to return to Australia.
  • Develop a strategy for remote working, ensuring that any work-related visa conditions are adhered to.
  • Consider whether your leave policies comply with work-related visa conditions and that the organisation’s sponsorship obligations are adhered to particularly in regards to reduced working hours, unpaid leave or stand down periods.
  • Review the organisation’s business travel policy to ensure it aligns with government requirements and recommendations including the Smart Traveller website. Consider whether overseas travel should be cancelled, and additional steps employees returning from overseas should take before returning to work.
  • Develop a communication plan with employees and offer support for foreign staff and their families who may be impacted by the travel restrictions.
  • Identify the effects of the outbreak on future business need, and seek advice in case of redundancies or layoffs as these may impact future visa sponsorships.
  • In case of layoffs, ensure you are aware of the business’ obligations to visa holders in particular sponsored workers and their family members.

A Temporary Visa Holder Is Currently Overseas and Unable to Return, What Can We Do to Assist?

Only Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians and dependents) are able to enter Australia. All other foreign nationals are not permitted to enter Australia until the travel ban is lifted.

Immediate family members must request entry permission prior to travel, by providing the Department evidence of their relationship. This requirement applies regardless of whether the family member holds a substantive visa or a bridging visa. Please contact us for assistance with requesting travel permission.

Are 482/457 Visa Holders Exempt From the Travel Ban?

No. All temporary visa holders including sponsored employees who are offshore must not travel to Australia until the travel ban is lifted.

The Australian Border Force Commissioner has been given powers to approve travel in “compelling and compassionate situations”. We understand that the Government is considering putting in place a framework around that which may include critical infrastructure projects, health and essential services, split families and temporary visa holders with a prior established residence in Australia and who were caught offshore by the most recent travel restrictions. Changes to the travel restrictions need to be approved by the National Security Committee of the Cabinet. We will continue to monitor and provide updates once further information is available.

Is It Possible for 457/482 Visa Holders to Work From Home or at a Different Location?

Yes, working from home arrangements are acceptable for subclass 482 visa holders. In some instances, a role may not be able to be performed from home (for example, generally a Chef cannot usually work from home). In these cases, an employee can take leave (paid or unpaid) at the discretion of the employer.

I Have Been Laid-off From Work and I Hold an Employer Sponsored Visa. What Should I Do?

Employer sponsored visa holders (e.g. subclass 457/482 or 407) are permitted to work for their approved sponsor only, and must not cease working for their sponsor for more than 60 days.

If the employment ends, the work visa can be transferred to a new sponsor within 60 days of ceasing work with the previous employer. Otherwise, the you must apply for an alternate visa to remain in Australia during your job search or depart the country to comply with your visa.

When Should Temporary Visa Holders Renew Their Visas? Is There Any Impact on Visa Processing Times for Onshore Applicants?

We recommend that organisations review their visa holder population and identify any upcoming visa expiries. Applications should be started sooner, to avoid processing delays.

Currently, there are no exemptions to Labour Market Testing (LMT) for 482 visa renewals as the coronavirus pandemic is not prescribed as a natural disaster under the Migration Regulations. Therefore, the minimum four (4) week advertising period still needs to be factored in to timeframes if an application is not exempt from LMT.

Published processing times for 482 visa applications is 28-35 days and for TSS nominations to transfer a work visa is 21 days. This may be extended during the current situation. Nevett Ford Immigration and Employment Lawyers can provide tailored advice and assistance.

Need Assistance? Contact us today

Telephone: +61 3 9614 7111
Email: melbourne@nevettford.com.au